Paging Rogers Cadenhead

· Customizing

First of all, I am rewriting this because I drafted it yesterday and then needed to reboot my browser (it was Mozilla at the time) and forgot/failed/missed the chance to copy-and-paste the draft to a safer place. In the past I’d have used kung-log, now ecto, to keep the user experience a little more desktoppy, but I’m on a new machine and can’t find the serial number that unlocks ecto. Ironically, I paid for kung-log and I paid for ecto but I’ve basically thrown up my hands in frustration but that’s another story.
Since Rogers knows Radio so well and is now delving deeply into Movable Type for another book, I’m just going to lazyweb I’ll my pent-up 2.x-series customizations I’ve been wanting to make over to him, in the spirit of, if I want to do it, so may the readers of your book (which i will also totally buy).
So, Rogers, please give me a short step-by-step tutorial that will turn on the latent edit-this-page feature in Movable Type 2.661! Thank you.
Also, when is somebody going to build a nice PHP gui that can sit on top of databases created by Movable Type and mold them into, well, anything? I’m not trying to imply that Movable Type has jumped the shark here, but if Six Apart does see their business as TypePad hosting and professional publishing with MT platforms of the future, then their legacy will still be some reasonably well structured blog archives and a de facto standard.
I suspect I could kluge something by plundering the search-results-page template, since it produces edit links with the results automatically and I assume it checks the cookie and only shows them to you if you’re already logged in? (Actually, I’m not sure about that part – I recall Dori and Tom having visible Edit links on BackupBrain at some point)
I often think that more is made of my disputes with Dave Winer over various matters of pilpul but one way in which I am in total accord with him is on the power of “edit this page” (what a great meme – if Dave evers gets around to writing a book or finds a good collaborator he can work with, that might be a good name for the book, or maybe “Edit This Book?”
It’s also the beauty part that Manila and Radio share with wikis. What if each of my entries instead of having a comments section just had a wiki / whiteboard space and people could build an archive using any of my entries as a stub?
Just now I was scanning the egopendium that is my monolog and noticing various typos and other small errors. It’s ridiculous that I wasn’t able to edit them on the spot. What are we watiing for?

Now I have two problems

· Customizing

I’m trying to get the hang of the mod_rewrite module of my Apache web server. This enables me to trap certain URLs or patterns of URLs and rewrite them to point somewhere different on the back end. This has two practical benefits:

  1. It makes migration from an old path or permalink scheme much easier to handle. You no longer have to maintain duplicate content at outdated addresses, or manually redirect people. Instead, the old address seamlessly transports the user to the new address.
  2. It frees you from the URL scheme automatically generated by your content managment system, many of which are notoriously ugly or unuseful.

For example, I’ve set up a site using the DeanSpace software, which is a slightly modified version of Drupal. Drupal uses a “node” vocabulary that I find very geeky for ordinary users, and its URLs by default are of the form http://root.address/node/#### (that is, the base URL, a geek word, and an arbitrary number), sometimes with ?=variable a bit of database or PHP query jargon tacked on the end to transform the view of the underlying data.
This is a URL scheme only an engineer could love.
I’d much rather signal the nature of the content, the place in the hierarchy (or taxonomy, or ontology), or at least some key date related to the “node,” such as the date it was created or last revised.
With mod_rewrite, I’ll be able to invent any URL scheme I can imagine, and more importantly I can make database-generates pages appear to be static files in a stable directory hierarchy, so that Google and other search engines will feel comfortable indexing them.
Here’s my problem, savvy use of mod_rewrite involves learning something I’ve tried to avoid as long as possible: regular expressions. (Cue jwz’s famous remark about regular expressions.)
Can anyone point me to a good primer for moderately dense poseurs such as myself?

Template module tips for TypePad

· Customizing

TypePadista community catalyst and culture kitchen creator Liza Sabater is having a ball with TypePad and documenting what she learns as she goes on her TP blog, burudanga. In fact, I may have to add burudanga to my short sidebar of other metablog feeds.
I just landed on b u r u n d a n g a: template modules, in which Liza explains how to work with modules in TypePad and in doing so, realizes that she is learning more about Movable Type itself from mucking about in the templates provided with TP.

Making a blogroll with Movable Type

· Customizing

Dylan Tweney reports on his own fairly ingenious blogroll solution. He has set up his blogroll (with categories, no less) as a new blog in Movable Type and even used the extended-entry capability as an optional RSS-feed link field for his blogroll entries.
I like this approach and may adopt it! At this point you’re really building a directory, so maybe I’ll dedicate one of my stray domain names to a blogroll database blog. (Sure, think like that, say I to myself, Then you run into the one-level-of-categorization only limit in MT and start pining for FtrainKit all over again….)
Also, this reminds me that I am trying to come up with a canonical approach to doing a links sidebar. Anil’s is probably the best known model, though Kottke’s recently upgraded (comment and trackbackable) links sidebar is another good example.
The idea seems to represent the return to an optimized idea-capturing, instant blogging approach as facilitated by the BlogThis! bookmarklet. Sudden blogging, call it.
Blogger Pro, with it’s Title/Link/Description fields, provides possibly the best interface for entering these links, though Radio Express! would work well for Radio setups with title and link fields turned on.
Movable Type doesn’t have the idea of a master link associated with the entry (aside from the entry’s own permalink – this is one of the sources of confusion in weblog syndication to this day), so its bookmarklet isn’t optimized for entering quick links, but by mentally reassigning the fields (relabeling the text boxes), and including three in your (customizable) bookmarklet (the easiest might be Title for title, Entry for the linkURL, and Extended Entry for the description).
The vogue is to present the links in HTML in a minimalist style with the description embedded as the title attribute in the anchor tag, which is rendered as a floating “tool tip” in many browsers. It’s easy enough to put together a stripped-down, includable MT template to present your links this way.
The trick is that the RSS feed has to give T/L/D, so the same MT-database-hook tags show up in slightly different from usual positions in the RSS template. That is, the usual MT templates wrap the item’s permalink inside <link> tag and put the entry copy inside the <description> element, but in this model you’d want the entry copy (which will be just the URL) to go out as the link and the extended entry copy to go out as the description. Capiche?
No, probably not. I’m still working this out myself, and i’m tempted to use one of my legacy Blogger accounts to drive my quick links bar. We’ll see.